Over the past three years, a small-town rock band named Johnny’s Body has been gaining popularity in Texas and just released their first album: Swing Low Rock and Roll.
Most of the band members have been together for nearly a decade, starting off in a punk band called Garage 34, but decided to adopt a more straight rock style after gaining appreciation for the country and old-school rock music they listened to as children.
UMHB alumnus Ben Rhudy is the drummer for the band and graduated with a degree in mass communication/ journalism last year. While working on his bachelor’s, he was also playing at venues in the area, including Common Grounds, the Jubilee Theater and the Watering Hole.
He described their style: “Johnny’s Body is what I would call folk rock. It is a
combination of old country and rock with kind of more of a modern take. We are really looking more towards the future with a foot in the past.”
He calls them “Johnny Cash meets the Clash.”
The band was started by the two Rhudy brothers, Ben, who plays drums, and Jordan, on lead guitar and sings. Other members of the band are Megan Harris, who plays trumpet and accordion; Taylor Branch, who plays rhythm guitar; and Ronnie and Carrie Martin, who play bass and keyboard, respectively. All of them live either in Waco or Gatesville.
The band plays frequently in Central Texas, with the majority of shows in Waco.
Most recently, the band was invited to the Battle of the Bands in Austin, but was unable to participate due to scheduling issues. The band has also registered for South by Southwest for next year and is hoping to get a spot in the prestigious indie festival.
Their album, Swing Low Rock and Roll, has obvious influences from old country and classic rock, but still maintains a fresh, upbeat sound. The collection of 11 songs is diverse in its sound, crossing into mariachi, blues and punk.
The album truly shines at track 6, named “Poor Boy.” The song has strong lyrical value and is upbeat and catchy.
It is easy to find yourself humming many of Johnny’s Body’s songs long after the disc has finished.
“Sweet on You” digs into a more indie style, giving listeners some great rhythmic material. The song gives the band sort of a lovable feel, straying from their normal bluesy country-rock style.
“When the Chariot Swings Low” is masterful in its own right. The song is about what will happen when death comes knocking and is a great
homage to the beginning sounds of country. This piece is really set off by the slow banjo play.
The band accepted an invitation to play in April at the International Guitar Festival in Dallas, which is arguably the biggest guitar festival in the world.
In their three years together, the band has significantly grown in popularity and only looks to get bigger in the future.
Lead singer and Gatesville native Jordan Rhudy commented on their future.
“Five years from now, hopefully we will be touring nonstop and recording albums when we are not playing shows. As a band, that is the best time we have had together. It was like rock and roll summer camp,” he said. “We want a wider audience, more exposure and bigger venues. We would like to increase our audience tenfold.”
Rhudy also said that living in Central Texas has had a profound effect on their music.
“It helped me learn how to be secluded but not completely separated from the outside world. It has helped me shut out the things I don’t like and write good music. It has affected my musical tastes because I remember riding to the hardware shops with my grandpa listening to Johnny Cash. It helps you accept your roots.”
Information on the band can be found at johnnysbody.com.
Fans can also link to their album on iTunes and to their Twitter and Facebook accounts, where upcoming shows and band news are posted.